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September 19 2006You might also enjoy to go through some of the references in this class I took some years ago at Harvard's Berkman Center on Privacy in Cyberspace [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/privacy99/syllabus.html ]. What I'd encourage you to read, most particularly, is Janna Malamud Smith, Privacy Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life (ex cerpts [ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/privacy99/lesson1/malamud/mal_index.html ]). It expresses why people need some measure of privacy to be human, specifically the role that solitude plays in mental health. It made a very great impression on me at the time, and I never forgot it.
If you read the second one on the list, for example, she writes about efforts to destroy people psychologically in World War II, and the role that spying played in dehumanizing them. In the third excerpt, she quotes from Nadezhda Mandelstam, the author of the book, "Hope Against Hope," which I heartily recommend. She was the wife of the wonderful poet Osip Mandelstam, who died in a labor camp. In it she describes life in Russia under Stalin, and the destructive effect of surveillance. It is important to realize that when you remove all rights from a person, you make them less than a human being. There are certainly some reasons, valid ones, why employers need to know what their employees are doing on company time, obviously. But if it reaches the point where the employee has no rights of privacy at all, they are now less than human, and there is no property right in the world that can justify that, I don't think. Do you? Really?
11:58 PM EDT
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